When kids fall in love with reading, they’re set up for a lifetime of learning. While some kids are eager to dive into books, others need a little bit more support coaxing their inner bookworm out. Thankfully, literacy experts like Susannah Richards have some exciting tips and tricks for caregivers looking for ways to inspire their kids to read. We sat down with Susannah and parents Maria Giraldo and Maria Trivedi on February 1 for our Falling in Love with Reading: A Caregiver’s Role webinar, and we got an incredible list of books and some fantastic ideas for how to foster a love of reading outside of the classroom. Check out some of our favorite tips below!
Make books accessible
Books don’t need to live on bookshelves! Strategically place them anywhere your child might be able to find a moment to read. Whether it’s a basket by the couch, the middle of the kitchen table, a bag by the door, or even in plastic bags in the bathroom: when books are around, we invite kids in to take a look.
Let your kids choose
Find books that align with your child’s interests and personal choices. It’s okay if your kid only wants to read books about trains, or will only read books that have stories about space, or wants to read the same three books over and over and over again. That being said, it’s also okay to want to get some new books in your kid’s hands. One great way to help your child find new books is to look for “if you like” lists: these lists have recommendations based on books your child may have already read, or things they might enjoy. For example: if your child likes Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, they might like Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky.
…And know that it’s okay if they don’t want to finish a book.
If you can change your clothes when you’re not really feeling the sweater you picked out the night before, or if you can stop watching a tv show that’s had one too many plot twists, you can also stop reading a book if it’s not working for you, and we can remind our kids that this is an okay thing to do! There are also books that are perfect for dabbling in: whether filled with poems or short stories or lists, some books are meant to be stopped and started and flipped through in any order, at any time.
There are a lot of different ways to read. And they’re all good.
Does your kid like reading independently? Awesome! Does your kid like having you read books to them? Wonderful! Does your kid like audiobooks? Amazing! As long as your kid is engaging with books, they’re doing great. And it’s okay to get creative with how you get your kids to read! Susannah suggests taking turns reading pages of the book, or even turning the lights out and using a flashlight.
Rearrange your books periodically
When we have books constantly sliding in and out of our bookshelves, it can be easy to lose track of what we’ve got! When you reorganize books from time to time, you can discover new stories, return to old favorites, and also find books that are ready to be passed on to new readers. Trade books with friends or ask your local librarian for tips on where you can pass on gently used books.
Get to know your local children’s librarian
Take a visit to your local library and introduce your child to their children’s librarian. Chances are, your librarian will be bursting with suggestions and ideas for new books. Let them know your child’s interests, books they’ve liked, and also books that they haven’t liked. Who knows? Your librarian might send your child home with their new favorite title.
We cannot wait to implement these tips into our own lives! Whether we’re adult readers or caregivers, there’s something in this list that everyone can take advantage of to promote reading joy and growth. Watch the full webinar here, and check out Susannah’s list of books here!